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GMC Acadia Remote Start Key Fob - the start button is on top

GMC Acadia Remote Start Key Fob - the start button is on top

Ford announced last week that it will begin offering a factory-installed remote start system to its vehicles, beginning with the 2011 Super Duty pickup when it launches next spring.  Ford says it will “quickly be offered across the entire Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lineup.”  Ford’s remote start system, when combined with automatic climate control, will gauge the temperature and quickly achieve a comfortable cabin environment. Heating, heated seats and defrost activate on colder days; air conditioning and cooled seats kick in when the weather is warm.

Later that same day, Chevrolet put out a press release that served as a reminder that they have offered remote start since 2003.  Funny that it took a competitor’s announcement of a similar feature to make Chevrolet/General Motors to tout a great feature about which they have been all but silent.  Launched in 2003 as a 2004 model year feature, GM’s factory-installed remote start was the first of its kind to be factory-installed.  Previously, this feature was only available as an aftermarket add-on.  This gave GM an advantage over all of their competitors, but they never seemed to advertise it or make it prominent in their press releases or brochures.

When I first heard of it while working for Ford as the minivan pricing manager, your humble reporter pleaded with the product development community to look into offering this feature, especially on minivans.  I saw it as a family-friendly feature, especially on a vehicle like a minivan where the driver might be carrying an infant into a cold vehicle in the winter or a hot one in the summer.  Alas, they did not listen to me.  I was told that none other than Chairman Bill Ford (and CEO at the time) had decided that it did not fit with the environmentally-friendly image he wanted for the company.  Remote start would waste gas, he apparently said.  Now, they are not only offering it, they are saying, “Ford engineers calculate that using a remote start system could help reduce hydrocarbon, CO and nitrogen oxides emissions by up to 75 percent, since it preheats the catalyst on cold starts (where up to 95 percent of emissions typically occur), prior to those first few accelerations.”  Hmmm, I guess actual facts won the day, huh?

If Ford gets any true traction from this after GM has had it for 6+ years, then they will only have themselves to blame.  Themselves…and their advertising agencies.

That’s what I think – how about you?  Please leave your comments below.

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  1. I think I now understand why the remote start on my 2008 Lincoln MKZ was installed by the dealer. I wish it did all of the things the new one will do. Because now I have to remember when I turn off the car in the morning to turn the heat up. And as you pointed out, the seats don’t automatically heat up, which is the quickest way to make the environment more pleasant.

    More interesting to me though is your comment on how it took Ford making this announcement to get GM to say hey we already have this. Kind of like how GM has some very good cars (I drove a Malibu from Hertz in Florida for 2 days last week and enjoyed it) but they can’t seem to get people to understand that.

    Comment by jmungar — 15 December 2009 @ 1:20 pm

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